Drive Hits the Pedal to the Metal!!!

Bitter, Bitter Balcony, Movie Review, Drive 2011Hossein Amini Nicolas Winding Refn Ryan Gosling, Carey MulliganJames Sallis (novel Bitter,Bitterometer,meter Drive(2011)

From the film’s svelte neon violet, cursive lettered opening titles, we knew “Drive” had some serious mileage. Danish action director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Bronson”) answers the question that’s never occurred to film buffs but should have (at least when randomly watching “Sixteen Candles” and “Manhunter” back to back over a Madonna “Papa Don’t Preach” costume party): what would “Taxi Driver” have been if Michael Mann and John Hughes joined forces to remake the Martin Scorcese’s Classic, circa 1985? Yes, “Drive” does take place in Modern Day Los Angeles, but the mixture of long, stark takes with the nameless Driver (Ryan Gosling) cursing during a luminous Californian night, juxtaposed with montages that belong in MTV’s Reagan era video rotation make “Drive” into the most surreally striking vision of L.A since “Pulp Fiction.”

“Drive” follows the reserved but perilous anti-hero, who balances his day job as a stunt driver with the illicit moonlight gig of providing criminals with full-throttle getaways. One day, the Driver encounters his neighbor, nice girl Irene (Carey Mulligan) that turns his life around, bringing tenderness and even a paternal connection with the girl’s boy. However, when Irene’s ex-con husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), needs help to pay a big debt to former inmates, the Driver is ultimately betrayed by Nino (Ron Perlman in his irritating best) who staged the fake robbery that costs Standard’s life.

The Driver, now on the lam from Nino, must resort to his innate violence in order to protect Irene and her boy from the imminent danger they face. Throw in the Driver’s tough luck mentor (“Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston), an even more feared Mafioso (the surprisingly menacing Albert Brooks), a Valley Girl bimbo gone sour (“Mad Men” delicacy Christina Hendricks) with a couple of bald Eastern European henchmen the Driver can shoot, hit with a hammer or simply stomp to death, and you got an stylishly brute action pulp.

However, unlike the satirical renditions of the era (most notably Edgar Wright’s “Hot Fuzz”), “Drive” romanticizes the tempo of 80’s movies that made the aforementioned Mann, Hughes and several of their peers into the decade’s most recognizable filmmakers. While Refn (who won this year's Cannes Film Festival for Best Director) makes several choices that seems likes his winking his eye to anybody who still wears a fanny pack, the violence and dour feel of “Drive” is so remarkably timed that Refn lets us know he’s not joking.

Screenwriter Hossein Amini does an excellent job in adapting James Sallis' novel, foreshadowing the impeding violence to come, as well as intriguing defining the roles each character plays in the Driver’s fate. Case in point, the first meeting between the Driver and Brooks' Bernie Rose has the young driver hesitant, refusing to shake hands claiming his are "dirty" after a track run. Rose, in retort, says that his hands are "dirty" too, and in this revelation the two find an understanding about their baggage, as well as a precursor to their inevitable clash.

Additionally, “Drive’s” pulse lies in Cliff Martinez’s tense score, a minimalist synthesized piece that tips its cap to Jann Hammer. Also, pop-inspired tracks from Desire (“Under Your Spell”), and the College and Electric Youth collaboration (“A Real Hero”) give the harsh film a levity that carries the love story between the Driver and Irene.

Ryan Gosling brings a virginal shyness to the sociopathic Driver. When in front of Irene, Gosling bears a sweet, short smile that belongs to a teenager. Yet, his Driver turns into a stone-faced psycho when threaten, and an explosion of rage succumbs him every time he kills. Gosling, who nibbles at his toothpick and sports a bad-ass padded white jacket with a golden scorpion in its back, makes for an inspired choice to portray the deranged driver.


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Drive2011Hossein Amini Nicolas Winding Refn Ryan Gosling, Carey MulliganJames Sallis (novel   Drive2011Hossein Amini Nicolas Winding Refn Ryan Gosling, Carey MulliganJames Sallis (novel   Drive2011Hossein Amini Nicolas Winding Refn Ryan Gosling, Carey MulliganJames Sallis (novel   Drive2011Hossein Amini Nicolas Winding Refn Ryan Gosling, Carey MulliganJames Sallis (novel   Drive2011Hossein Amini Nicolas Winding Refn Ryan Gosling, Carey MulliganJames Sallis (novel  

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